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Composer of the Week

Karol Szymanowski

Donald Macleod explores the myriad influences on the life’s work of Karol Szymanowski.

The reshaping of Europe at the end of the First World War had a defining effect on Polish composer Karol Szymanowski. As Europe was being reapportioned, the comfortable world he’d known up to that point disappeared for good. His family’s comfortable and cultured life disappeared, their assets wiped out by the October Revolution. From that point on, Szymanowski ceased to be a man of some privilege, able to compose in the relative seclusion of his family’s estate in what was then part of Ukraine. He needed to support himself and his mother and sisters but he found himself ill-equipped temperamentally to deal with this dramatic change in his lifestyle. He became increasingly weighed down by illness, quite probably tuberculosis. That, coupled with a chain-smoking habit and struggles with alcoholism, were to take their toll. He died in poverty at the age of just 54 in 1937.

Across the week, Donald Macleod explores five distinct influences on Szymanowski’s music, starting with his formative years growing up in a family with a passion for the arts. As a young student, his studies in Warsaw led him towards the language of Richard Strauss and Max Reger, while his love of travel directed him towards impressionism, the ancient world and the Orient. Meeting Stravinsky in Paris and hearing the Ballets Russe was another turning point, as was in his later years in particular, his commitment to establishing a national musical voice for the newly formed country of Poland.

Music featured:
Study in G flat major, Op 4 No 2
The Swan, Op 7
L’île des sirènes (Métopes, Op 29)
Violin Concerto No 1, Op 35
Songs of a Fairytale Princess, Op 31
Mazurka, Op 50 No 11
Desires; The infatuated east wind; Dance (Love Songs of Hafiz, Op 26)
Concert Overture in E major, Op 12
Piano Sonata No 2 in A major, Op 21 (2nd movement)
Symphony No 2 in B flat, Op 19 (1st movement)
La fontaine d’Aréthuse (Mythes, Op 30)
Sérénade de Don Juan (Masques, Op 34)
Demeter, Op 37b
String Quartet No 1 in C major, Op 37 (3rd movement)
Symphony No 3, Op 27: The Song of the Night
Study in B flat minor, Op 4 No 3
Penthesilea, Op 18
Thème varié ‘Caprice No 24’ (Three Paganini Caprices, Op 40)
King Roger, Act 1 (excerpt)
King Roger Act 2 (excerpt)
Mazurkas, Op 50 Nos 1, 3, 6
Wanda, Op 46b No 5
Whip on the horse, Op 58 No 4
String Quartet No 2 (2nd movement)
Harnasie, Op 55 (Tableau 1: In the mountain pasture)
Symphony No 4, Op 60, ‘Sinfonie concertante’ (1st movement)
Stabat Mater (excerpt)
Mazurka, Op 62 No 1

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Johannah Smith for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Karol Szymanowski
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And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Ludwig van Beethoven: Why Beethoven?

Donald Macleod asks conductor Marin Alsop and historian Simon Schama why Beethoven’s life and work still matter today.

All through 2020, as part of Radio 3’s Beethoven Unleashed season, Donald Macleod takes an unprecedented deep dive into the compelling story and extraordinary music of Ludwig van Beethoven. In this uniquely ambitious series, told across 125 episodes of Composer of the Week, Donald puts us inside Beethoven’s world and explores his hopes, struggles and perseverance in all the colourful detail this amazing narrative deserves. Alongside this in-depth biography, Donald will also be meeting and talking to Beethoven enthusiasts and experts from across the world to discover how his music continues to speak to us in the twenty-first century. Through story and sound, the series builds into a vivid new portrait of this composer, born 250 years ago this year, who made art that changed how people saw themselves and understood the world.

Music featured:
Bagatelle in A minor (Fur Elise), WoO 59
String Quartet No 10, Op 74 (Harp) (3rd movement)
Symphony No 3 in E flat major (Eroica) (3rd movement)
Grosse Fuge, Op 133
Symphony No 5 in C minor (1st and 2nd movements)
Symphony No 8 in F major, Op 93 (2nd movement)
Sonata in A major, Op 30 No 1 for violin and piano
Leonore Overture No 3
Piano Sonata No 27 in E minor, Op 90 (2nd movement)
Piano Concerto No 4 in G major, Op 58 (2nd movement)
Piano Sonata No 13 in E flat major, Op 27 No 1 (2nd movement)
Symphony No 3 in E flat major (Eroica), Op 55 (2nd movement)
The Creatures of Prometheus: Overture
Fidelio: Act II finale
Symphony No 4 in B flat major, Op 60 (1st movement)
Piano Sonata No 14 (Moonlight), Op 27 No 2 (1st movement)
String Quartet in F minor, Op 95 (1st movement)
Egmont Overture, Op 84
Symphony No 9 in D major (Choral), Op 125
String Quartet in A minor, Op 132 (5th movement)
String Quartet in E flat major, Op 127 (1st movement)
Bagatelle in E flat major, Op 126 No 6
Mass in D major (Missa Solemnis), Op 123 (Kyrie)
Coriolan Overture, Op 62
String Quartet in B flat major, Op 130 (5th movement)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Martin Williams for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Beethoven: Why Beethoven?
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And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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George Walker

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of George Walker, in conversation with his son Gregory.

When Rosa King Walker announced to her five-year-old son George that, like it or not, he was going to have piano lessons, she can scarcely have been aware that she was dispatching him on a lifelong journey in music. He made his concerto début at the age of 23 playing Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto, with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the great Eugene Ormandy. A stellar career on the concert platform surely beckoned, but in the event, things were not so straightforward. We’ll hear how Walker began to turn his back on the idea of a solo career, gravitating instead towards a life in teaching – and, increasingly, composition. Donald and Gregory discuss Walker’s studies with the formidable Nadia Boulanger, the relief when his commissions started rolling in, and the far reaches of his stylistic ambition. Walker won the epic Pulitzer Prize for music in 1996 for his piece Lilacs, a career-defining moment, which makes what happened next in Walker’s career all the more surprising. “I got probably more publicity nationwide than perhaps any other Pulitzer Prize-winner,” he recalled in 2015. “But not a single orchestra approached me about doing the piece or any piece. It materialized in nothing.” In this emotional look back at the life and work of his father, Gregory discusses identity, representation and perseverance, ending with the story of his swansong, Visions, inspired by the tragedy of the Charleston church massacre.

Music featured:
Response
String Quartet No 1
Lyric for Strings
Piano Sonata No 1
Cello Sonata
Trombone Concerto
The Bereaved Maid
Sonata No 1 for violin and piano
Spatials
Variations for Orchestra
Five Fancies for clarinet and piano four hands (Theme and 5 variations)
Piano Concerto
Music for Brass (Sacred and Profane)
Cantata
Piano Sonata No 4
Sinfonia No 1
Hey Nonny No (anon)
Poème for violin and orchestra
In Time of Silver Rain
Mother Goose (Circa 2054)
Lilacs
Modus
Icarus in Orbit
Piano Sonata No 5
Da Camera, for piano trio, harp, celesta, string orchestra and percussion
Violin Concerto
Bleu
Sinfonia No 5 (‘Visions’)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for George Walker https://ift.tt/2FyYMHl

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Arcangelo Corelli

Donald Macleod delves into the international successes of Arcangelo Corelli.

Arcangelo Corelli was something of a European phenomenon not only during his lifetime, but also after his death. His compositional output was not large, but the development of the printing press enabled his music to be widely circulated. Musically, he bridged the gap between the Baroque and the Classical periods, and is seen as pivotal in the development of the sonata and the concerto. Even today, Corelli’s music is held in high esteem, with composers still inspired by his music. As a violinist he was also legendary, and people flocked from all over Europe to not only hear him play, but to also be taught by him. Corelli spent most of his career in Rome, maintained in some luxury by royalty, nobility and the Church. During his career he collaborated with many other composers including Alessandro Scarlatti and Handel. Despite his fame and continued popularity, we still know relatively little about Corelli, and this Composer of the Week series seeks to explore the man and his music through his personal and professional relationships.

Music featured:
Sonata in G minor, Op 4 No 2 (Corrente)
Concerto Grossi, Op 6 No 3
Sonata in G, Op 1 No 9
Handel: La Resurrezione (Ho un non so che nel cor)
Sonata in F major, Op 5 No 10
Concerto Grosso in D, Op 6 No 1
Fuga con un soggetto solo
Sonata in G minor, Op 5 No 5
Sonata in F, Op 1 No 1
Sonata in A minor, Op 1 No 4
Sonata in B minor, Op 3 No 4
Sonata in F minor, Op 3 No 9
Concerto Grosso in F, Op 6 No 12
Sonata in D
Sonata in B major, Op 2 No 5
Sonata in E flat major, Op 2 No 11
Sinfonia to Santa Beatrice d’Este in D minor, WoO1
Concerto in G minor, Op 6 No 8 (Christmas Concerto)
Sonata in C, Op 5 No 9
Sonata in A minor, op 4 No 5
Sonata in B minor, op 4 No 12
Sonata in C, Op 2 No 3
Sonata in F major, Op 2 No 7
Handel: Sonata a 5, HWV288 (Violin Concerto in B flat)
Sonata in G minor WoO2
Corelli Arr. J. C. Schickhardt: Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 3
Sonata No 2 in D minor, Op 2 No 2
Concerto Grosso in F, Op 6 No 2
Corelli Arr. Geminiani: Concerto Grosso VII in D minor
Sonata in D minor, Op 5 No 12 (Follia)
Concerto Grosso in F, Op 6 No 9

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Luke Whitlock for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Arcangelo Corelli. https://ift.tt/2MzQWkF

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Johannes Brahms

Donald Macleod explores the music of Johannes Brahms through his close relationships.

Brahms was a deeply private man and very guarded about his life, his friends and his feelings. Across this week, Donald goes “Behind Closed Doors” with Brahms to discover what really made him tick. He finds friends, mentors and lovers along the way who together help solve the enigma of the composer.

We’ll hear about Brahms’s doomed early romance with a young singer, Agathe von Siebold, plus his lifelong friendships with Robert, and particularly Clara Schumann – probably the person he was closest to in his life. Donald explores the music written for some of the women he knew intimately, and why he sought solitude and how it came to influence his music. Throughout his life, there was a great expectation placed on Brahms’s shoulders. We end by looking at how that shaped his character and music.

Music featured:
Sonata No 3 in F minor, Op 5 (4th movement)
Lieder & Romanzen, Op 14 (No 4, Ein Sonett & No 7, Ständchen)
Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor, Op 15 (1st movement)
Ave Maria, Op 12
String Sextet No 2 in G, Op 36 (1. Allegro non troppo)
2 Gavottes, WoO 3 (Nos 1 and 2)
Piano Sonata No 1 in C major, Op 1 (1. Allegro)
6 Songs, Op 3 (Nos 2 and 3)
Piano Quartet, Op 25 (3rd and 4th movements)
String Sextet No 1in B flat major, Op 18 (2nd movement)
Piano Quintet in F minor, Op 34A (1st movement)
Rhapsody in B minor, Op 79 No 1
6 Songs, Op 7 (Nos 2 -5)
Variations in E flat on a Theme by Schumann (Nos 8-11)
Alto Rhapsody, Op 53
16 Waltzes, Op 39 (Nos 1-4)
Cello Sonata No 1 in E minor, Op 38 (3rd movement – Allegro)
Klavierstücke, Op 76 (No 7 – Intermezzo in A major; No 8 – Capriccio in C major)
Violin Sonata No 2, Op 100 (1st movement: Allegro amabile)
Nanie, Op 82
Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat major, Op 83 (3rd movement – Andante)
Serenade No 1 in D major, Op 11 (2nd movement)
Piano Sonata No 2 in F sharp minor, Op 2 (4th movement)
Vier ernste Gesänge, Op 121 (Nos 3 and 4)
Ein Deutsches Requiem [A German Requiem], Op 45 (2nd and 3rd movements)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Glyn Tansley for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Johannes Brahms. https://ift.tt/2Z77ipM

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Percy Grainger

Donald Macleod surveys the life, music and quirks of Australian composer, Percy Grainger

Donald Macleod begins this week episode about Percy Grainger by tracing the composer’s ambivalent relationship with his primary musical instrument, the piano, and the ever-present influence of his mother. He then follows Grainger to London, where his composing took second place to performing, leading to concert tours of Scandinavia, South Africa, New Zealand and back home to Australia. We’ll also hear about his enthusiastic and sometimes controversial role in the folksong revival of the 1900s, away from starchy drawing rooms and concert halls. Donald keeps up with Grainger during an anxiety-ridden move to America during the First World War. To end, he explores some of the composer’s more unsavoury views and his quest for musical ‘freedom’.

Music featured:
Mowgli’s Song Against People
Molly on the Shore
Walking Tune
Tribute to Foster
Marching Song of Democracy
Hill-Song 1 and 2
Handel in the Strand
English Dance
Colonial Song
Scotch Strathspey and Reel
The Warriors
Brigg Fair
Creeping Jane
I’m Seventeen Come Sunday
Four Settings from ‘Songs of the North’
Green Bushes
Lincolnshire Posy
Country Garden
Suite: In a Nutshell
The Power of Rome and the Christian Heart
Irish Tune from County Derry
The Bride’s Tragedy
Shepherd’s Hey
The Power of Love
Jutish Melody (Danish Folk Song Suite)
To a Nordic Princess
Immovable Do
Free Music
Free Music No 2
The Jungle Book (excerpts)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Martin Williams for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Percy Grainger. https://ift.tt/2LRYv5G

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Leoš Janáček

Donald Macleod illustrates Leos Janacek’s inner tensions through five key relationships

One of the most original voices of the twentieth century, Leoš Janáček was a composer, musical theorist, folklorist and teacher. Born in 1854 in the Moravian village of Hukvaldy, which was then part of the Austrian Empire, in his youth German was the language of government, education and social influence. Having returned from studies in Germany, Janáček made detailed studies of native folk song and spent years annotating the natural rhythms of the Czech language. He was to write all his works for stage in his native language. The range of his professional activities gave him a range of outlets to voice what quickly became a life-long commitment to Czech culture.

Janáček was a contradictory man, who spent much of his life feeling at odds with his circumstances. Through five of his closest relationships, Donald Macleod builds a picture of how his inner tensions found expression in his music.

Music featured:
Suite for Strings, Andante con moto (3rd movement)
Four male-voice choruses
Lachian Dances
Šárka (excerpt from Act 1)
Sinfonietta
Lavečka (The Bench)
Theme with variations (Zdenka Variations)
Amarus (3rd movement)
Janacek, rev. Mackerras: The Cunning Little Vixen Orchestral Suite JW 1/9
Quartet no.1 (The Kreutzer Quartet)
Nejistota JW V/2
Hukvaldy Songs
Taras Bulba
Pohádka
Jenůfa – excerpt from Act 1
Kat’a Kabanova – Act 3 excerpt
The diary of one who disappeared (excerpt)
Quartet for strings no. 2: Intimate Letters
Glagolitic Mass – Credo
Žárlivost
On the overgrown path (excerpts)
The Excursions of Mr Brouček
The Fiddler’s Child
Potulný šílenec

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Johannah Smith for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Leoš Janáček https://ift.tt/2PoBwQC

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Mary Lou Williams

Donald Macleod charts the extraordinary life of composer and jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams’ music stands out from the crowd because, as Duke Ellington recognised, “her writing and performing have always been just a little ahead throughout her career.” A prolific composer and arranger, she was also a gifted pianist. A master of blues, boogie woogie, stride, swing and be-bop, Williams was quick to absorb the prevailing musical currents in her own music, naturally able to exploit her ability to play anything she heard around her. It is this restless musical curiosity that defines her own compositions, and led her to become friends with and mentor many younger musicians, among them Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Born around 1910 in Atlanta, Georgia, Williams grew up in Pittsburgh, where she had to overcome racial segregation, gender discrimination and the disadvantages of an impoverished family to realise her musical ambitions. Learning to play entirely by ear, she was performing locally by age six. Barely into her teens she was touring professionally as a pianist, living proof that – contrary to the prevailing views – women really could play jazz as well as men. But her artistic success came at some personal cost, with instances of domestic abuse, two divorces, a gambling addiction, and the ongoing strain of trying to support her extended family, all taking its toll over the years. After taking a spiritual path, she spent some years trying to rehabilitate addicted musicians, and developed an interest in writing sacred jazz pieces, and after a long career of some sixty years she took on the mantle of educating future generations about the cultural roots of jazz.

Over the course of the episode, Donald Macleod follows Mary Lou Williams as her life and musical pathways intertwine, from the early years playing Kansas City swing, to embracing be-bop, religion and modern jazz.

Music featured:
The History of Jazz (excerpt)
Rosa Mae
My mama pinned a rose on me
Willis
Nite Life Variations
Close to Five
Lonely Moments
Cloudy
Kool Bongo
Walkin’ and Swingin’
Corky Stomp
Froggy Bottom
Lotta Sax Appeal
Mess-A-Stomp
The Rocks
Little Joe from Chicago
Sammy Cahn & Saul Chaplin, arr. by ML Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band
A Mellow Bit of Rhythm
Twinklin’
Jelly Roll Morton, arr. ML Williams: The Pearls
What’s Your Story, Morning Glory
Scratchin’ in the Gravel
Roll ‘Em
Gjon Mili Jam Session
Boogie misterioso
Zodiac Suite (excerpt)
In the land of Oo-bla-dee
Mary Lou Williams Orchestra
In the land of Oo-bla-dee
A Fungus A Mungus
Nicole
Irving Berlin, arr. by ML Williams: Blue Skies (Trumpets no end)
Tisherome
New Musical Express
Hymn to St. Martin de Porres
The Devil
O.W.
Mary Lou’s Mass
ML Williams, Sonny Henry: Lazarus
Zodiac Suite
Syl-o-gism
Why?
Chunka Lunka
Ode to Saint Cecilie
Medi II
Blues for Timme
Praise the Lord

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Johannah Smith for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Mary Lou Williams https://ift.tt/35ks8Uy
And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Malcolm Arnold

Donald Macleod journeys through some of the contrasting sides of Sir Malcolm Arnold and his music

Sir Malcolm Arnold was a prolific composer, writing music in many different genres ranging from nine symphonies and over twenty concertos, to chamber music, music for brass bands and nearly one hundred and twenty film scores. These many works for film include classics such as Hobson’s Choice, Whistle Down the Wind, the St Trinian’s films, and The Bridge on the River Kwai for which he won an Oscar. He composed works for some of the very top performers in the music industry including Julian Bream, Julian Lloyd Webber, Larry Adler, Frederic Thurston, Benny Goodman, and collaborated with the likes of Deep Purple and Gerard Hoffnung. His music crossed social boundaries and gave pleasure to so many, and yet his personal life was marred by alcoholism, depression and periods of hospitalization. He’s been described as a larger than life character, outrageous, Falstaffian, Bohemian, and some of the stories which circulated about Arnold have become the stuff of legend.

Across the episode Donald Macleod traces Sir Malcolm Arnold’s life through exploring five different influences upon the composer’s music, from his love of Cornwall and Ireland, to his own mental and emotional wellbeing.

Music featured:
The Belles of St Trinian’s (Prelude)
Symphony No 2, Op 40 (Lento)
String Quartet No 1, Op 23
Clarinet Sonatina, Op 29
English Dances Set 1, Op 27
Three Shanties, Op 4 (Allegro vivace)
Four Cornish Dances, Op 91
Fantasy for Guitar, Op 107
Symphony No 8, Op 124 (Allegro)
Philharmonic Concerto, Op 120
Suite Bourgeoise for flute, oboe and piano (Tango)
Concerto for Organ and Orchestra, Op 47
A Grand Grand Overture, Op 57
Symphony No 4, Op 71 (Allegro)
Concerto for Two Pianos (3 Hands), Op 104
The Padstow Lifeboat, Op 94
Divertimento for flute, oboe and clarinet, Op 37
Little Suite No 1, Op 53
Fantasy for Brass Band, Op 114
Concerto for Two Violins, Op 77
Hobson’s Choice (Overture)
The Sound Barrier
Five Blake Songs, Op 66
Symphony No 5, Op 74

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Luke Whitlock for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Malcolm Arnold https://ift.tt/2XfnLHJ

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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